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How To Get Rid Of Moths In Your Attic

Updated on September 23, 2012

Sound The Horns Of Battle

If your attic is beginning to look like a battlefield of damaged fabric and sullied food stores, or something out of a 1930's horror film, it may be high-time to take the fight to the moths with a handful of proven home remedies.

While moths are not a health hazard, if left unchecked, the problem can grow exponentially over time, leading to the constant contamination of food and destruction of fabrics (fabric damaging larvae can feed for up to two and a half years!).

Our first step will be to identify the source of the infestation, and the type of moth we're dealing with (if possible). If a quick glance around the attic reveals a plethora of small winged creatures flocking in droves from corner to corner, making it impossible to find a single source, it's time to put your gauntlets on, because we're going to war.


Carpet Beetles

If you are seeing damage on wool, fur, carpets, rugs or skin, you may be dealing with an infestation of carpet beetles instead. Be on the look-out for rice-like grains strewn around the place, these are actually discarded beetle skins.

Know Thy Enemy

Larvae, and not mature moths, are responsible for damage around the attic. When looking for a source, check the ground for silken or brown tinted cylindrical threads around half an inch long. These are the cases from which larvae hatch.

If you are dealing with fabric-damaging moths, you probably won't see the adults flying around in conspicuous droves due to the fact that they absolutely hate light. If you can see moths flying freely around the room, you're probably looking at the tail-end of a pantry cloth infestation instead (usually the Indian Meal Moth -- do they look familiar?). Ultimately, the type of damage being done will alert you to the kind of moth which is plaguing you.

Likely sources of moth infestations (if you can't pinpoint their lair, try checking these locations first):

  • Look though all food-stores (such as bird feed) and look out for small holes in the lining. If the food itself seems a little gluey you've hit jackpot. Moths have the irritating tendency to infiltrate just about everything, don't stop searching once you've found a single source. It is generally advisable to throw everything out.
  • Check the corners and undersides of shelves and overhangs.
  • Check cracks, nooks and crevices where something larvae are feeding on may have fallen.
  • Check items that have recently entered the house (within the last few weeks) such as suitcases, shopping and stored clothing.

Planting Our Standard

Once you have a general idea of where to strike, it's time to take action. Before I delve into commercial or professional solutions, there are a number of common home remedies that are often used to eliminate the problem.

Step 1. Time For Some Fresh Air

Before you begin your mothicide it is important to clean-up very thoroughly. Clean up the attic (and anywhere else in the house that may have been targeted), remove all food stores, fabrics and clutter. Don't worry about anything else just now, just make sure it is clean -- the real cleansing will happen later.

Step 2. Common Natural Repellents

If the infestation is mild, you could try and simply repel the moths without resorting to "violence". If you're dealing with a veritable hegemonic swarm, you can still use these methods to make sure they don't come back.

  • Dried mint leaves - Scatter a few mint plants around the affected areas to persuade the moths to emigrate.
  • Lavender - Scatter lavender buds (or put them in sachets) over the affected areas, or alternatively use cotton balls dipped into lavender oil.
  • Cloves - Using cloves as a repellent also has the additional benefit of leaving a pleasant aroma around the attic, unlike moth balls.
  • Cedar - Cedar storage cupboards and chests are perfect moth repellents. Use any available cedar storage to protect valuable fabrics (such as wool) from the swarm.


Step 3. Moth Elimination

The following methods aim to kill, and not just dissuade. All of the following methods are cheap, and easily available.

Chemical Fumigation - I do not recommend using mothballs or other chemical bombs as a detoxing method for two distinct reasons. Firstly they release toxins that are harmful for humans and pets (paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene), and secondly can leave a nauseating smell in the attic, clothes or house itself.

Disposable Moth Traps - Moth trapping is another popular way of controlling and ultimately toppling your local moth population. Not only do moth traps worth exceptionally well using natural pheromone as the bait, but they are also not poisonous, and do not present a toxicity hazard.


Step 4. Death By House-Keeping

The last step of our journey will be to take direct action on the food of the moths themselves (usually your clothing). While the traps are set, take the time to clean and dry out the damaged goods (if a carpet was affected you can either freeze or steam press it -- the temperature will kill any eggs or larvae present) thus removing their long-term sustainability. Any moths not caught by the traps will ultimately starve.

Prevention: Moths cannot survive in dry, sunlit places. While the attic may or may not have a window, making sure you don't store used items is your safest bet at preventing their return. If you were dealing with a pantry moth outbreak instead, and moths are becoming a recurrent habit, make sure you keep a routine of sealing all food.


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    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      Glad to know the age-old solution of cedar actually works!

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Great hub! Love the natural repellents. I really don't like using so many chemicals in the house.